Oh Dana: (Dating) Games Without Frontiers

Oh, Dana!
I’m a 44-year-old woman who ended a long-term relationship about six months ago. I’m excited to start dating again. I know I’m late to the party, but I finally decided to try online dating. I’m new to this, so I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what app to use, how to create the best profile and red flags to look out for? Basically, I’d like any tips you could give to optimize my online experience.
Sincerely,
Swipe Right

Dear Swipe Right,
I’ve got you covered. You’re about to begin navigating the online dating waters. I’m not going to lie, the waters are often murky and at times filled with sewage. I hope my suggestions will guide to the crystal-clear waters of paradise. I know, enough with the water analogy.
Let’s begin with the platform. There really are so many to choose from: Match, eHarmony, Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish (which inspired my memoir, Plenty of Laughs), the list goes on. You know they even have platforms for farmers, and vampires and God knows what other groups. In essence, you have a lot of choices. I suggest you experiment with different apps and cast a wide net (back to the water reference). Don’t be afraid to extend your range. The more you put yourself out there, the better chance you have of snagging a great catch.
As far as the profile goes, put some thought and time into it. Choose a variety of pictures that represent who you are. Men are visual creatures and with that in mind you’ll need both head and body shots. Also, think about including pictures that showcase your personality. If you enjoy outdoor activities, maybe include a picture of you hiking. If you like dining out, add one of you at your favorite restaurant. Keep filters to the minimum and post recent pictures. There’s nothing worse than meeting someone and discovering they look nothing like their pictures.
Write a bio that highlights your interests, personality and what you’re looking for. Knowing what you want and conveying it in your profile is important. Are you looking for a long-term relationship, casual hook up, dating, etc.? The bio should give an upbeat yet accurate description of you, but remember you’re not writing a book. Leave something to find out later and talk about during the date.
As far as red flags, pay attention to the pictures. If there’s no picture that’s a telltale sign that something is up. Who is he hiding from? The mafia? His wife? Is he in the witness protection program? Also, pictures that include drug/alcohol use, guns, money and naked women are alarming for obvious reasons. I’ve noticed that many men post pictures of fishing and hunting. I’d stay away from those profiles, especially ones with dead animals. Something about a man posing with a dead animal creeps me out. Then, there’s always the infamous shirtless bathroom selfie which is an indication that the guy thinks a little too highly of himself. Bios that say, “I’ll finish this profile later” tells me that the guy can’t even commit to finishing something he started. I’d imagine dating him would be a similar disaster. Not a good sign. Then there’s the guy who writes, “Ask me.” No, I’m not going to ask you. This isn’t an interview. More aggressive profiles make statements like, “don’t waste my time” and “I’m an alpha male.” Swipe left like your life depends on it when you read bios with this verbiage to save yourself from having to apply for a restraining order later.
Shirtless bathroom selfies and photos of dead animals aside, maintaining a sense of humor is probably the best advice I can give you when dating online. Good luck navigating the online dating waters. Remember, if you don’t find the right catch in the beginning–keep trying. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

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Dana Buckmir aka “Oh, Dana!” Dana is the author of the memoir “Plenty of Laughs: One Woman’s Journey Navigating the Online Dating Waters. The book is a comical account on dating in the age of technology, including the compelling story of finding love online. You can find a sample of her book at https://danabuckmir.com/Dana wants to help people with their lives, love, and everything in-between! She is taking your questions at Contact@danabuckmir.com All submissions are anonymous.